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Coca-Cola’s home run


taylor_swift_dietcokeAfter the Cold War ended, all American soft drink icon, Coca-Cola, found itself with a major challenge in Russia.

Since its entry in the 1990s, Coke has had some success in the market, but it’s always struggled with being consumed in the home.

A few years ago, it only had 10 per cent household penetration, compared to rates of 60 per cent in more development markets.

This low consumption was due to the brand’s youth in the market, according to a case study published this month by Path to Purchase in the US.

“It’s not a brand familiar to mums from their youth, and Russian mums make most brand decisions while they’re shopping,” explains the study.

The large market also presented a unique problem due to its meal habits: Russians do not traditionally serve drinks with main meals.

To conquer these dual problems, the world’s largest multi-national soft drink company decided to target trendsetters: teenagers.

Rather than targeting mothers, it focused on the young Russians who would lead brand associations of the future.

“This is the first Russian generation to have grown up with Coke,” says the report.

“This generation also is the backbone of Russia’s economy [which is] responsible for purchasing 30 per cent of all fast moving consumer goods.”

Turning insights into a campaign

Rather than just targeting meal times, Coca-Cola tapped into the party going lifestyle of young Russians, leading to the Better Together campaign, based on celebration and special everyday moments.

“The message: Coke can turn a routine weekday evening into a special get together with friends and food at home.”

As part of its instore shopper marketing, Coke installed activations at a whopping 30,000 outlets, which involved 8600 handmade displays and 7500 employees.

One litre soft drink bottles were marketed as an ideal size for impromptu get togethers, with two litre bottles carrying the message ‘Spread happiness’ to target party goers.

Coke also partnered with Russian airline, Aeroflot, to serve its products inflight, which further reinforced the idea of drinking soft drink at special times.

The fuzzy results

Category sales grew almost nine per cent over the next year, and purchase among adults rose by seven per cent.

Russian teenagers that viewed Coke as a brand “for someone like me” rose by an admittedly subdued four per cent, to 33 per cent.

What did change was consumption patterns: young adults grew to account for 47 per cent of Coke volume sales after the campaign, a seven per cent increase on the year before.

“Consumption is a learned behavior that requires marketers to understand the unique mindset and shopping needs of each new generation.”

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